On Tuesday, U.S. Representative Will Hurd released a proposal to reform U.S. asylum laws and address the humanitarian crisis at the Southern border that is straining the resources of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies and overwhelming local communities.
According to Hurd, the Asylum Reform Act of 2019 would overhaul antiquated laws ill-equipped for addressing the current crisis.
“This proposal would fix our broken asylum system that encourages illegal immigration, diverts resources from those with legitimate claims and, in many cases, actually rewards the kingpin human smugglers who thrive on its perpetuation,” said Hurd, who represents 820 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, more than any other member of Congress.
Via a news release, the details of Hurd’s Asylum Reform Act of 2019 would make several important changes to U.S. asylum laws, including:
- Limiting eligibility for asylum to migrants who enter the U.S. at a port of entry, which would discourage illegal entry into the country and ensure Customs and Border Protection can process migrants in a controlled and orderly manner.
- Prohibiting migrants who are arriving from a contiguous country (i.e., Canada or Mexico) from seeking asylum unless they have already been denied asylum or a similar protection in that country, ensuring that migrants are seeking protection from our neighbors before entering our asylum process. This prohibition would not apply if migrants are seeking asylum because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution in Mexico or Canada.
- Codifying the administration’s credible fear standard used to screen migrants seeking asylum to ensure agents on the ground are evaluating the credibility of their statements when making their determination. Currently, 80% of migrants from the Northern Triangle pass their credible fear screening, but only 20% ultimately receive asylum. This change will help ensure that future administrations must take into account the credibility of the applicants.
- Removing existing obstacles that prevent DHS from removing asylum seekers to a safe third country.
- Deterring frivolous asylum claims by closing loopholes and defining what is considered a frivolous asylum filing.
- Extending the statute of limitations for fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents that may be used in asylum matters from 5 years after the date that the offense occurred, to 10 years. Given the current backlog of asylum claims, we are rarely able to prosecute these types of offenses.
“Our asylum system, created in the 1980’s, never could have anticipated such a large number of migrants seeking asylum. That’s why reforming our asylum laws is an essential step to address the unprecedented crisis at our border,” Hurd stated.
“There is still more to be done, and I remain committed to soliciting feedback and doing whatever it takes to solve this problem so we can actually help our communities. Good policy is good politics – not the other way around.”